There is genuinely nothing worse than social media. Because lets face it, everyone and their Aunt suddenly has an invincibility cape on and everyone thinks It’s acceptable to speak before they think.
Whether its over debates, discussions or fall outs. Everything can be misread or taken to heart when the other person hasn’t meant it in that term, or generally wasn’t thinking.
Now I’m going to talk about my personal experience with online abuse.
I joined the online community when I was 13 and It’s had both positive and negative affects on my life. One positive is that I joined a random Mummy group to then become an actual employee for the company – A once in a lifetime opportunity just appeared. But that is maybe one of the only good things, besides making friends with people all over the world. I could list the negatives but unless you’re brand new to social media, then you will have enough of your own dislikes towards the online platforms.
In the last few years I’ve struggled with my weight and that always tends to bring out the online judges for a competition you haven’t signed up for. You’re either criticised for being too skinny and then criticised for being too big.
But then you have people who are devastated to be the size they are with skinny people wanting to be bigger and the bigger population wanting to trade it in and be skinny. You are shamed regardless of your size and forced to feel you have to do better, even when you’re already doing everything you can. This is a problem I have witness happen to myself in both areas.
I grew up being so tall and petite, my school friends would joke at the amount I could eat but never put on. It obviously soon caught up to me in my late-teens and I ended up going from a size 10 to a size 16 now after having my daughter. I’ve been ‘fat’ shamed by people I use to call my friends and they will never know the extent their words went.
They’re probably sitting there, reading this and thinking ‘well good’ but no, It’s not. You caused me to hate myself. I joined a gym and started Slimming World, but I still cannot surpass 12 stone.
The reason is I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and it makes it 10x harder to loose weight. People cannot see how I gym for two hours, 5 days a week, because my body struggles so much to loose the weight and I cannot get treatment for my PCOS until I am trying for another baby.
The very things that get me by is how my husband isn’t any less attracted towards me so please, tell me why I should be ashamed? I eat healthily so it’s not like I’m fat because I am unhealthy. My daughter doesn’t love me any less. I can chase after her, play with her and tend to any need she has. If anything my tummy fat is much better for her as she loves to sleep on me. Our together families don’t treat me any differently, so why does that give you the right to judge me?
Now this is something I really wanted to touch base on because in the last few months I’ve really been a target for abuse.
I used to have a friend I did everything with. We’d laugh, cry and do pretty much everything together. I’d get excited when I saw her name because I knew it would be another day of fun, we got on so well together. Or so I thought. Then randomly I’d get blocked from messaging her, even calling her to ask what I had done wrong and it became a vicious cycle of me trying so hard to see why our once amazing friendship was soon headed down the drain.
Soon after she left all together. No more calls, no more messages. All I saw was ‘Blocked.’.
I think maybe because I didn’t follow her that I was targeted more but when I stopped giving the attention she kept craving and soon turned into something much worse. It looked like she had finally decided to move on and I chose to do the same, but she hadn’t.
I was then subject to abuse from her followers. She had gotten quite popular between a couple thousand people and chose to spread lies about me. This meant I was getting abuse online via my Facebook inbox, comments I had made on Facebook and even attacked on my Twitter and Instagram. I was contemplating on quitting, anything that would stop the horrible things I was being subjected too.
I knew she was hurting. I could see that. But attacking me and trying to push me to my mentally emotional limits was not the way to make anyone feel better. Not even the bully.
I did my best to ignore it. I chose to carry on and pretend I wasn’t being told I was ugly or that even my daughter was too. I showed the world that this wasn’t going to get me down and with the love and support from everyone else around me, I was able to move on from that. But it wasn’t for long. After the first wave didn’t knock my confidence, I saw the determinate to ruin me was about to make it’s rounds again.
After a second attempt, I saw sympathy from others. Not for her, but those who had previously rubbed me down into nothing. They finally were starting to realise that this picture painted by her, wasn’t true. And soon a rebellion started. People cottoned on that I wasn’t who I was being made out to be and instead found holes in the stories she had said for themselves.
This person who bullied me, made me feel worthless and small, is no longer a problem for me. I will hopefully be left alone in the future. Some people think that you need to stand up for yourselves against bullies but that doesn’t always help. If you do not give a certain situation the attention, 9/10, especially with online abuse, it fizzles. Turning into a boring and useless episode because you are showing them that you will not be affected by what they’re trying to achieve.
Throughout all of this, I never publicly said a thing. I kept all my feelings to myself and between my family/friends. I felt at the time I was going to implode or have a break down. I chose not to be the victim. To see that this would be the end to the bullying filled me with so much happiness.
Types of Cyber-Bullying
Harassment – This is the act of sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages and being abusive. Nasty or humiliating comments on posts, photos and in chat rooms. Being explicitly offensive on gaming sites.
Denigration – This is when someone may send information about another person that is fake, damaging and untrue. Sharing photos of someone for the purpose to ridicule, spreading fake rumours and gossip. This can be on any site online or on apps. We even hear about people altering photos of others and posting in online for the purpose of bullying.
Flaming – This is when someone is purposely using really extreme and offensive language and getting into online arguments and fights. They do this to cause reactions and enjoy the fact it causes someone to get distressed.
Impersonation – This is when someone will hack into someone’s email or social networking account and use the person’s online identity to send or post vicious or embarrassing material to/about others. The making up of fake profiles on social network sites, apps and online are common place and it can be really difficult to get them closed down.
Outing and Trickery – This is when someone may share personal information about another or trick someone into revealing secrets and forward it to others. They may also do this with private images and videos too.
Cyber Stalking – This is the act of repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm, harassment, intimidating messages, or engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid for his or her safety. The actions may be illegal too depending on what they are doing.
Exclusion – This is when others intentionally leave someone out of a group such as group messages, online apps, gaming sites and other online engagement. This is also a form of social bullying and a very common. Reference from Bullying.co.uk.
- Everything can be traced by the police. Every time you or a bully visit a website or make a posting, your internet service provider, Sky, BT or Virgin, has an electronic note of your activity. Even if a message is sent by a fake or anonymous email account or you delete the account, it can still be traced to the location it was done at.
- Always use hard or difficult passwords. Not too difficult that you forget but not easy enough for someone to guess, like your name or relatives. Remember to use letters, lowercase, uppercase, symbols and numbers. Also never trust anyone with your passwords, if you happen to give it out – Don’t forget to change it.
- If you’re the bully, always remember what you’re potentially doing. Many children and adults have taken their lives over this. You can break their self-esteem, confidence and their ability to talk to other people. Always think of the words you’re about to say or send someone and ask yourself ‘is really worth it. Always consider the impact your words will have.
- Finally, remember once you’ve said it. You can no longer take it back. Nothing is safe on the internet, things can be screen shotted or in some circumstances, printed off for safe keeping or to be handed to the police. Things can be taken in the wrong manner so always be sure to really think about what you’re saying before you press ‘send’.
Bullying doesn’t just stop at school. It is normal for adults to bully adults. Don’t suffer in silence, please speak to someone. Me, your family, a friend or even a doctor. Police can be involved if you feel the need to be. You can make a report or have them visit you if you feel unsafe. There are people who can help you!
Self Help Links
I really hope this has helped someone out there. Online abuse for me personally has been a challenging experience but please remember that bullies DO NOT win. They never have. I will not allow my experience define who I am and I want you to not allow them to shape you to however they feel you should be.
Please don’t feel ashamed to ask for help.